Growing up for many of us, summer holidays were a time for resting and preparing for the upcoming school year. While having a few months off for rest and relaxation might seem beneficial to students, it can actually have some serious consequences. so it is important that we don’t disengage children during this time.
Engage & Support
Student disengagement during the summer months can mean many young people lose access to critical supports. Studies show that providing summer opportunities, which fuel children’s minds, helps to prevent academic regression [click to tweet]. According to the National Summer Learning Association, this is especially significant for specific student communities. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave some students 2 ½ to 3 years behind their peers. Fortunately, there are a number of easy to access options available to all children and community members during the summer.
The Toronto Public Library offers a ‘journey through arts and culture’ with the free Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass (MAP), which grants two adults and up to five children access to explore the city’s participating museums, art galleries, historic sites and venues such as the Ontario Science Centre. Most library branches issue passes on a first come, first served basis on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.
Additionally, City of Toronto Day Camps offer a broad selection of summer camps with affordable academic camp options focusing on subjects like Math, Computer Science, Web Design or Creative Writing. These camps allow your child the chance to meet and interact with like-minded peers and learn from each other rather than being isolated and unstimulated most of the summer at home. Families can apply to receive a fee subsidy that helps offset the cost, but most camps run by the city are priced to be affordable. If camp is not an option, you can bring the classroom to your child virtually with instructional videos, educational games, and library visits.
Programs & Software
If you create summer programming for your child at home, take a look at Ted Talks featuring inspirational youth from around the world [click to tweet]. Technology can also offer many opportunities to realize summer learning. Put technology to use for your summer learner with educational websites like TVO Kids which encourages children to discover interactive games and activities based on the Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum. There are many learning focused apps for Android and iOS too. And if you’re worried about your child getting distracted on their device with low value apps, you can use an app like Screen Time which enables parental control of your child’s device. You can limit access to all non educational apps and even create a reward-based system to motivate your child to achieve specific summer learning milestones, go outside to play, or do chores, and you can set tasks and rewards of your choosing.
Instead of allowing your child’s mindset to shift too far into vacation mode, we can strategically utilize the numerous available resources to avoid learning loss. Visiting educational and enriching places, the wide variety of developmental summer camps, and an academic approach to technology can all help put an end to the intellectual lull children experience in the summer. We should never underestimate our ability to learn from each other and create a community committed to learning. Talk with like-minded parents to pool your resources and planning efforts. Maybe you can hire a tutor for group sessions, find a volunteer (high school students need to complete their mandatory volunteer hours each year), or take turns with other parents to lead activities that keep children’s minds stimulated and learning all summer (and year) long.
By Laura Davey & Juliana Trichilo Cina
Laura Davey is a Solutions Coordinator at Learnography and applies creative solutions to unique tasks every day. She attended York University studying English Literature and continues to follow the English department’s course syllabus for reading ideas. When not reading, she loves to explore Toronto and find great Mexican restaurants.
I’m an academic at heart with a love for the practical. My time at the University of Toronto and Queens University were some of the best years of my life. Today, I am deeply involved with my work, family, friends, and insatiable need to learn. While my love for tradition runs deep, as a first generation Canadian, I am eager to usher in new ways of thinking. I love communications, gardening, technology, and folk music—I was once called a bundle of contradictions and I couldn’t agree more. I’m a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, reader, animal lover, and wannabe comedian. I live in Toronto with my husband, son, and pet rabbit.